Episode Number: 94
Episode Title: Pumped Up (listen to this episode)
Transcript by: Susan the Great
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Renay: Hello friends, I’m Renay.
Ana: And I’m Ana.
Renay: And you’re listening to Fangirl Happy Hour: Question Tuesday edition.
Renay: Today we’re going to answer a question about dinner parties, and readings stats, and also: books that we’ve read over and over and over. Are you feeling pumped, Ana? To answer some questions?
Ana: I am pumped!
Renay: From Transcendancing on Twitter: have you ever held a fancy-pants dinner party just because? If yes, did you enjoy it, and did it feel like playing house? And if no, does the idea intrigue or horrify you?
Ana: What are the parameters for this? What is a fancy-pancy dinner party exactly?
Renay: I guess nice clothes and you eat at a table?
Ana: No, I have never thrown one of those. Not be inclined to. I have attended fancy-fancy dinner parties, but not actually organized one.
Renay: What are they like?
Ana: I guess it depends, right. If it’s friends, it’s just like a normal get-together. But if you are invited for something like for work, or for business, it can be very stuffy?
So the fanciest dinner party experience I’ve ever had was a few years ago, a PR company here in the UK organized a trip to Alnwick Castle in Northumberland for a few bloggers to go and have tea and then dinner with the Duchess of Northumberland. And then we had sit-down afternoon tea with Scottish bagpipers, in full attire, just sitting behind us, well, standing behind us, and playing the pipe, and we’re having dinner party and having tea with the duchess. And that was a bit surreal. Because there was a book. She was co-writing a YA novel and that’s why.
Renay: Did you read her book?
Ana: Actually, I did, on the way there, on the train. I did. It wasn’t terrible. That was the fanciest thing I’ve ever been to but I have never organized anything and I don’t think I would.
Renay: I am trying to think of the fanciest things that I’ve ever gone. I think I went to some kind of fancy dinner when I at Girl State. If you don’t know what Girl State is look it up, and then go, “Renay, what?” Yes, I was planning to go into politics, don’t ask.
Other than that, I’ve never been to a dinner party that was fancy, because here we don’t have dinner parties. We have potlucks. Or you go to somebody’s house for a holiday dinner. Maybe we could count my grandma’s house? At holidays? Where the fanciest we got was to dress in sort-of nice clothes and go to my grandmother’s house and sit around the table and eat like people who eat at tables and not like me, who eats on the couch, watching Property Brothers.
Ana: What’s a potluck?
Renay: You have a party at your house and you have everybody bring their own food. You assign people to bring food and they bring food.
Ana: Oh, it’s what we call an American party in Brazil! So everybody has to bring a dish!
Ana: So we call that Festa Americana. Awesome.
Renay: Even when I used to host parties—because me and my friends have this group and we did themed parties every month—they were always potluck parties. And we had to accommodate one of our friends with dietary restrictions, and another one who’s a vegetarian, so we would end up with these really interesting food combinations sometimes. And the problem with dinner parties now is that I don’t have a table. I have a bar in my kitchen. We have stools. We eat dinner on stools at the bar. Also I hate dressing up. I have to wear spanx. Everything’s tight. I don’t like it. I just wanna wear pajamas.
Ana: For me, the question of the dinner part of hosting something is that I tap out very quickly after talking for a long time with people. I get like, very exhausted. I get super excited when I meet people and then I like I guess I get an adrenaline crash. And if I’m hosting it I can’t just tell people to go away! Yeah, no. I’d rather go somewhere and then I can leave at any time I want. And then I also don’t have to clean up.
Renay: Ana’s solved the mystery. It never feels like playing house when I cook because when I was a kid and played house, that was a fucking nightmare. My dolls were getting kidnappe —
Renay: And —
Renay: — trapped by wood dwellers, and – when I was kid playing house, fucked up shit happened. I don’t know what kinda house other people played, but mine was fucked up. So, no, when I have a dinner party, it does not feel like playing house!
Ana: So our answer is no.
Renay: And we have to move on. [laughter]
Renay: From Anonymous on tumblr: “I’ve been working on improving my reading stats when I noticed I read three women in 2014, but as I learn more about gender, pronouns change and telling someone’s gender gets tougher, I feel like binary reading-women challenges are beginning to be problematic and invasive. How have you both tackled this problem in your own reading? I know Renay has a women’s writers’ challenge, what about trans writers and NB writers? What do we do as things change?”
Ana: I mean, when we talk about things changing we are really only talking about the discussion being more visible. It’s not that things have changed as much as now we have the discussions and the discussions are there and there’s more visibility beyond the binary.
It’s correct that it’s sometimes hard to tell. You can’t tell from bios who is a trans woman, who’s an enby, it’s just really difficult to tell. There’s no open disclosure, most of the times. I’m inclined to not go with the men/women binary, but go with a, “This is all the guys I read, and this is all the non-guys I read.” I think this is what I’m gonna do this year, unless I can somehow find out the gender of every single person, and sometimes you can’t. But at the same time you’re kind of like putting everybody in just this one bag? It’s also a problem so I don’t know.
We can’t just – “What is your gender?” Sometimes people just don’t want to disclose, so it could be invasive, so how do we address that? I’m still inclined of just ,”Oh these are all the non-white-dudes that I read this year.” Because if you say, “Oh, I read X women and X men,” you are effectively erasing people.
Renay: I do have a woman writers challenge. Honestly, I just put trans women in that category. Otherwise I tend not to stress myself out about it anymore. I think it’s fine to still have women writers challenges, because women as a category are still erased and silenced and devalued in our society. The people that I end up including in those challenges are people who disclose on their websites. If they don’t disclose I don’t go and ask them; I file them in my reading sheet and don’t give them a gender? Because my stats are for me; they’re not for anybody else. I don’t really think it’s my business to be all up in somebody else’s reading going, “You did this women writers challenge, but did you include XYZ in your women’s writers challenge,” because everybody’s in a different place.
I’m a woman, and I still think women writers challenges are important to me personally, because if I ever write something I want it to be valued and treated just like anything else that a dude might publish, so that’s why I think they’re still valuable. And I also think there’s also a lot of people out there who still only read men, all year, that just a simple women’s writer challenge would be great for.
When I first started reading more women, would I have included explicitly trans women? No, I wouldn’t have, because it would have been overwhelming. Because it’s hard to find the authors to read. So the reason I don’t stress about it now is because I’m better at finding books. I did the women’s writer’s challenges over the years and then now I know how to find books. I know how to find authors. I know how a lot these authors talk about themselves, and disclose information, and a lot of them are really open on twitter. So if you find on Twitter you can find out all the information you know because they share with you very kindly, and then you can just format your stats sheet, if you have one of those, however you want. I guess I just don’t worry about it anymore, right?
Renay: Like, nobody’s gonna know but me so it doesn’t matter how I categorize it.
Ana: Well I do like, I have it stats at the end of the year.
Renay: Yeah, I do that too, but those are still for me. And I don’t think I break it down, I do men, I do women, I do people of colour, but I don’t break it down any further than that.
Ana: Yeah, but that’s the point that this person was trying to raise, right? That shouldn’t we break it down?
Renay: Like if you wanna worry about what everybody is gonna say about your stats, then you probably shouldn’t post your stats.
Renay: So last time, we started a series of questions that Ana and I are both answering, and I figured out who prompted us for this book survey type thing, and it was Catlin! It was Catlin.
Renay: Sorry Catlin, I didn’t know it was you, but it’s you! Thank you! So much! And it’s called Books Of My Life and it’s a thing that EW does, with authors. And they ask them these different questions, so Ana and I are going to be answering all of them. So Ana. Books that you’ve read over and over and over. What are they?
Ana: As you know, I am not a huge re-reader, especially the past fifteen years or so, I don’t think I have reread anything over and over. But I do have an answer for that, because before this, I used to read a few books quite often.
One of them was Lord Of The Rings, the trilogy. I would read that trilogy like every year. And before that, there was a children’s book, from Brazil, that I absolutely loved and I would read over and over and over again. Growing up and then later in life I would still go back to that book. And it’s called O Menino Maluquinho by Ziraldo. Those were the two things that I would go back to all the time. I also really quite liked rereading and reading Calvin and Hobbes. I have a collection of those, so I sometimes look at them. Because they are lovely.
Renay: So this is a hard question for me to answer because I reread a lot. I am definitely the complete opposite of Ana in that I reread a bunch. I reread fanfic that I love over and over and over, and there’s too many to name because there’s a lot of them. But fanfic is definitely something that I reread because I just love it so much. But there are some books too, which won’t be a surprise to anybody that’s listened to this podcast for any amount of time.
One of the books that I reread often is His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik. It’s the Napoleonic Wars but with dragons and I really love that first book so much. And another book that I reread a lot is Old Man’s War, followed by The Last Colony, followed by Zoe’s Tale. I will often read them all at once. Then One Piece by Eiichiro Oda. One Piece is wonderful. I’ve reread it many times. I also like to reread World War Z by Max Brooks. It is an oral history of the zombie war. It’s a really great zombie novel, I guess? But I really think of it more of a sociology novel than a zombie novel.
Ana: That was so surprising to me. I even made the actual face from that gif.
Ana: Yeah! I was not expecting you to recommend a zombie novel. Or to say that you read a zombie novel over and over again.
Renay: World War Z is actually the novel that I have gotten in audiobook I liked it so much. I also reread Sunshine by Robin McKinley, quite often. It’s really good. And I also reread Spin by Robert Charles Wilson.
Ana: Oh, I bought that one! Was it because you recommended it?
Ana: It’s right there!
Renay: Well you should read it! It’s good!
Ana: It’s a time travel story. It’s on my time travel shelf.
Renay: Well it’s—sort of.
Renay: I feel like the October Daye by Seanan McGuire is gonna end up on this list because I love it so much. I think I’m going to do a reread of that this fall. Hey space bees, what books do you reread over and over and over and over again? Let us know.
Ana: Thanks to Transcendancing and Catlin and Anonymous Bee for sending in questions.
Renay: Our interstitial music this week is by Chuki Beats and Boxcat Games.
Ana: Our show art is by Ira and our transcripts are created for us by Susan with help from our Patrons. You can check them at fangirlhappyhour.com.
Renay: We’re on Twitter at @fangirlpodcast. Our email is email@example.com. You can write to us any time with comments, questions, or concerns.
Ana: If you want your question featured for a future Question Tuesday, you can ping us on social media, use the handy form on fangirlhappyhour.com, or check our show notes.
Renay: Have a snack, drink some water, and contact your reps! Thanks for listening to our show, space bees!
Ana: See you next episode!
Renay: This is not what she asked us, she did not ask us to have a fashion—
Ana: No, I don’t really want to go into the why don’t I like jackets thing! [laughter]